Briefing: The key facts, figures about a Heathrow 3rd runway

This is a new short briefing, that attempts to set out a lot of facts and figures about Heathrow that people may find useful.   It has lots of those facts one cannot quite remember, and cannot think where they came from …. all in one place.

Briefing: The key facts, figures about a Heathrow 3rd runway

This short briefing gives some key facts:

The sections are:

Number of flights now with 2 runways and with 3 runways

Number of passengers now and with 3 runways

How many transfer flights does Heathrow have?

London is already the world’s best connected city for air travel

Possible benefit to the UK over 60 years  – perhaps £1.4 billion over 60 years

Number of jobs to be created

Cost of building the runway and terminal etc

Domestic routes – just 4 from Heathrow by 2030

International destinations – just 10 more long haul by 2040

Impact on regional airports

Homes to be demolished

Heathrow property compensation

Cost to the taxpayer of surface access improvements

What Heathrow says it will spend:

Amount of land to be taken

Loss of Green Belt

Likely number of homes that would need to be built

Air pollution situation

Heathrow and its car parking income – keeping up NO2

Heathrow air freight

Heathrow air freight air pollution

The number suffering from Heathrow noise

Night flights

Heathrow noise offers

Airport carbon emissions

Cap on UK aviation carbon emissions – 37.5MtCO2

Amount spent by Heathrow on advertising and PR for the runway

How much corporation tax does Heathrow pay? And how much in dividends?

Airports Commission says runway is for leisure travel, to make people happy



Number of flights now with 2 runways and with 3 runways

Capped at 480,000 flights per year.

Would rise to 740,000 maximum (or 700,000 for the Heathrow Hub) with a 3rd runway.

Number of passengers now and with 3 runways

About 74 million per year.

Rising to about 135 million by 2050 (Airports Commission forecast)

Perhaps 109 million by 2030, and 128million by 2040 and 135 million by 2050.

How many transfer passengers does Heathrow have?

Heathrow had about 18 million transfer passengers in 2011, out of around 66 million passengers.  That is about 27%

Documents for the Airports Commission indicate that the number would be about 30 million transfer passengers by 2050.

The additional 22 million passengers would take up over 50% of the new runway capacity, (ie. 22 million out of the extra 45 million) and would provide little or no economic benefit to the UK. They do not pay APD.  Transfer passengers do not leave the air-side at Heathrow.

Details at

London is already the world’s best connected city for air travel

London has  7 runways, Heathrow x 2, Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, London City Airport and Southend.

A total of 155,210,000 air passengers used London airports in 2015.

The total of air passengers at all UK reporting airport in 2015 was 251,479,000. So the London airport are well over half (62%).

While London is by far the best connected city in the world, New York comes 2nd, Tokyo 3rd and Paris the only other European city in the top 10. The pre-eminence of London indicates that the UK economy is not losing out due to any lack of airport capacity. London comfortably leads world cities, for airport capacity.

“Far from Britain declining as an aviation superpower, the capital’s global lead over every other city in the world is increasing.”  Simon Calder.  (Independent)

Possible benefit to the UK – perhaps £1.4 billion over 60 years

Airports Commission Final report said benefit could be “… up to £147 billion”.

And “The overall effect could be to increase GDP by 0.65-0.75% by 2050, amounting with carbon emissions traded to £131-147 billion in present value terms over the 60 years following expansion.”

All the other statements by the Commission tend to talk of the carbon capped option, which gives lower financial benefits.

Looking at the Commission’s table on   P. 131 of Airports Commission’s Final report

this talks about “total GDP impacts” rather than actual benefits (as it does not take off the costs) and it looks as if – from the table (no actual figures are given)  – the impact, carbon capped, is at most £130 billion.   (Not the carbon traded, up to £147 billion).

The Commission’s final report also says:  This compares to £89 billion in GDP impacts from expansion at Gatwick. The relative case for expansion at Heathrow is strengthened with emissions limited to 37.5MtCO2 in 2050, which sees the impacts of Heathrow expansion fall to £103-129 billion, but those of a second runway at Gatwick reduce to £44 billion.  (P.24)

Taking off the costs, these figures translate into (Carbon capped scenario, Assessment of Need) just  £1.4 billion benefit to all of the UK, over 60 years from the Heathrow NW runway.

And (Carbon traded scenario, Assessment of Need)  £11.8 billion benefit over 60 years.

(Page 147 of the Commission’s Final Report

The Commission’s economic advisors, Professor Peter Mackie and Mr Brian Pearce advised the Commission (May 2015) that its estimates of economic benefit were likely to be unreliable. They said: “Overall, therefore, we counsel caution in attaching significant weight either to the absolute or relative results of the GDP/GVA SCGE approach (PwC report) within the Economic Case.”

Number of jobs to be created

Airports Commission final report said:

“Expansion at Heathrow would drive a substantial increase in employment at and around the airport, generating an additional 59 – 77,000 jobs [additional direct, indirect and induced jobs] in 2030 for local people and for the fast-growing wider population in London and the South East, including for black and minority ethnic communities for whom Heathrow is an important employer.”

and  “Adding runway capacity at Heathrow is forecast to deliver significant growth in local employment through additional direct, indirect and induced jobs, totalling around 64,000-66,000 (Extended Northern Runway scheme) or 75,000-78,000 (Northwest Runway scheme) in 2050.”

The figure of 180,000 jobs was not mentioned again by the Airports Commission after November 2014, though it is used by Heathrow.  “A third runway would create up to 180,000 jobs and £211bn of growth across the country, it added. (The figure of 179,600 jobs was in the November 2014 consultation document by the Airports Commission.  The £211 bn figure is also not what the final report suggested.)

Cost of building the runway and terminal etc

£17.6 billion for NW runway or £14.4 billion for Heathrow Hub.  ( Airports Commission )

Willie Walsh said:  “Terminal 5 cost £5.6 billion in today´s money to build yet the new terminal, which will handle the same number of passengers, is slated to cost more than £8 billion.   10.12.2015

On 10th September  Lord Deighton, the Chairman of Heathrow, allegedly said the airport was putting forward to government a cheaper, faster scheme.  Nothing further has been heard of that.  Naturally there has been no ability for interested parties to see this scheme, and no consultation on it.

Domestic routes – just 4 from Heathrow by 2030

There are currently 7 domestic routes from Heathrow (Leeds Bradford, Belfast City, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Newcastle).  Commission expected only 4 domestic destinations by 2030.   It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030.  (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now.

International destinations – just 10 more long haul by 2040

Airports Commission final report July 2015 says:

” … with a new Northwest Runway there would be more than 30 new destinations with at least daily services from the airport by 2040, of which around ten would be long-haul…”  P 251.  AC final report

From Airports Commission Strategic Fit documents

Carbon capped. Assessment of Need.  AC Strategic Fit forecasts.

Compare Table 5.10 with Table 6.28 to get increases and decreases in flights, with the runway.

For the UK as a whole, including all airports, the Commission forecasts that the number of long haul destinations in 2011 was 61, and this would rise to 79 even without a new runway. The total number would only rise to 84 with a new Heathrow runway. (Carbon capped scenario)  That is just 5 more – in  2040.  And just 5 more in 2050, with 87 rather than 82.   (See the Strategic Fit document above – comparing tables).


Impact of 3rd runway on regional airports

From Airports Commission Final Report 1.7.2015  said.    Without any new runways, the number of routes to international destinations from regional airports

(“Other modelled airports”) would be (46 in 2011), 88 in 2030;  99 in 2040;  and 109 in 2050.

With a Heathrow NW runway, the number of routes to international destinations from regional airports would be  (46 in 2011), 77 in 2030, 87 in 2040 and 95 in 2050.

The increases at Heathrow come largely at the expense of the regional airports.

Homes to be demolished

Heathrow would require 783 properties for the construction of the runway.  Heathrow has now offered to buy up around 3,750 homes to minimise the numbers who would be under the flight path and very close to the new runway.  With over 3,000 homes deemed too noisy or polluted to live in, communities will be broken up – causing social dislocation, with all its impacts.

The number of homes to be demolished for the Heathrow Hub runway option is 242, but there are no details of compensation etc as this is not Heathrow’s scheme.

There are also schools and health centres affected.

(the number would be 167 homes  lost due to the Gatwick Airport Second Runway scheme.)


Heathrow property compensation

Heathrow has offered  25% above market price + Stamp Duty + moving expenses

The offer is subject to regulatory approval by the CAA. Approximately 3,750 homeowners’ properties would be eligible for compensation under the revised scheme.

[Heathrow would therefore have to pay – for a home valued at £250,000 – about   £250,000  + 25% + £13,000 Stamp Duty + £5,000 moving costs.  ie. about £330,000 for a home of that price.  That comes to a cost of about £80,000 per home, if Heathrow can then re-sell the home.   ie. they would have to re-sell it for about £80,000 more than the original price, not including costs of renovation etc.   ie. at least £250,000 + £80,000 = £330,000   Otherwise they make a loss.

Cost to the taxpayer of surface access improvements

Heathrow says that it would pay £1.1 billion and estimates total costs at £5 billion.

Transport for London says that: it could cost £15 – 18 billion

Airports Commission estimated cost of tunnelling the M25 could be £3.2 billion (part of the £5 bn).

Total costs estimated by Airports Commission at Heathrow NW runway £5 billion;  Heathrow Hub: £5.5; Gatwick: £0.8 billion.

P 224 of 


What Heathrow says it will spend:

It has said it will spend £1.1 billion.   Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told the Environmental Audit Select Committee at its inquiry in 2015 that Heathrow would only be prepared to pay £1.1 billion towards improved road and rail access.   Heathrow tries to make out the total costs are only £2 billion …..  but TfL says they are up to £18 billion.

Heathrow claims 70% of the UK population live within 3 hours of the airport via public transport.


Amount of land to be taken

The land taken would be 569 hectares for the Heathrow Northwest Runway and 336 hectares for the Extended Northern Runway. (Gatwick’s 2nd runway would entail greater direct land requiring 624 hectares).


Loss of Green Belt

The Gatwick scheme would affect a much smaller area of Green Belt land – just 9 hectares, compared to more than 400 hectares of Green Belt for the Northwest Runway and more than 250 for the Extended Northern Runway scheme.


Likely number of homes that would need to be built

The Airports Commission anticipated, in November 2014,  a need for between 11,000 and 26,100 new homes by 2030 for a 3rd Heathrow runway for direct employees.

And between 29,800 and 70,800 homes by 2030 for total employees.

Surrey County Council estimated there could be a need for up to 70,800 homes to be built in the 14 boroughs surrounding Heathrow, including Spelthorne and Runnymede, over the next 15 years.

That would mean a need for 50 more primary schools and 6 new secondary schools.

Councils are very concerned about this.

Air pollution situation

At several sites, the levels of NO2 are already above EU limits (40 µg/m3 over a year).

Why it could be a problem in future.

Clean Air in London  make 2 key points – that either runway at Heathrow would cause aggravated breaches of the NO2 annual limit value, in 2030 (and perhaps other timescales) and therefore be unlawful; and that a runway at Gatwick would not be consistent with sustainable development, as it would worsen air quality.

The Airports Commission expected the Heathrow NW runway scheme would mean worse air quality, (in terms of annual mean NO2 concentrations) at about 47,000 properties, and 39,000 for the Hub ENR runway scheme; [and at about 21,000 properties for the Gatwick runway.] (P. 267 Final report )

Heathrow claims it can expand to 3 runways, and air pollution will not increase.  This is pure speculation.  A large part of the air pollution around Heathrow (impossible to separate out entirely road traffic from airport generated pollution) is from road vehicles.  Heathrow only has the ability to slightly reduce the number of car journeys by its staff, and fuel use by airport vehicles.  Heathrow does not have power to cut the emissions of local road traffic. Unless these are cut, but powers taken by government, air pollution targets cannot be met.

The ability to keep NO2 emissions at legal levels is NOT in Heathrow’s hands. Neither is how fast the NO2 emissions of road vehicles decrease.

Heathrow and its car parking income – keeping up NO2

Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG, which owns BA) said in June that Heathrow is planning, as part of its runway expansion, to spend £800 million on a new car park.

Heathrow’s iIncome from car parking was £99 million in 2014 and £107 million in 2015. It has little incentive to reduce the number of passengers arriving, or leaving, by car.   Car parking is about 20% of Heathrow’s retail income.

Heathrow air freight

In 2015 Heathrow handled about 1,496,000 tonnes of air freight. About the same as in 2014. See
The 2015 level was only 14% higher than in 2007 (1,311,000 tonnes). The demand is not rising fast.

Heathrow handles about half (2015 data) of all UK air freight.  It is almost all as belly hold in long haul planes, with only a tiny number of freight only flights.

In Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway, it plans to double its cargo capacity. It hopes this will help its bid, due to the financial value of air freight.

A detailed document by the DfT in 2009 set out the figures for UK air freight exports and imports. Newer data is not readily available. The 2007 figures (by HMRC) showed that the tonnage of UK exports by air freight was 414 thousand tonnes. And the tonnage of imports was 1,663 tonnes. That means, in terms of just weight, the imports were 4 times larger.

The 2007 figures show that the value of UK exports by air freight was about £31.1 billion. And the value of imports was £51.1 billion. That means the value of UK air freight exports was only 61% of the value of UK imports. Heathrow says the value of its air freight in 2014 was £101 billion. But it says the value of its exports was £48 billion. That is 47.5% of the total – a bit under half.

In documents put out by Heathrow or its backers, IMPORTS are never mentioned. Only ever EXPORTS.

Heathrow makes its money from exports due to a lot of jewellery and precious metals.  Heathrow data for ? 2014 says:

Jewellery and precious metals (£4.37bn)
Machinery including engines, generators and boilers (£2.13bn)
Medicines and pharmaceuticals (£1.24bn)
Electrical machinery and equipment (£0.88bn)
Photographic, cinematographic equipment (£0.83bn)

Heathrow air freight air pollution

Most Heathrow air freight arrives in diesel powered lorries (electric vehicles do not have the power needed to carry heavy loads long distances).  It is the diesel vehicles that produce the most NO2 pollution.

Heathrow plans to double its volume of air freight. That can only mean more diesel vehicles. The Airports Commission did not take this rise into account, in estimating air pollution.

Transport for London said Heathrow expansion “will lead to an increase in freight movements to and from the airport, and this was not properly included in the surface access assessment undertaken by the Airports Commission.”  TfL October 2015

The number suffering from Heathrow noise

According to the European Commission, 725,000 people are currently (2011 data) impacted by noise from Heathrow; that is, 28% of all people affected by noise right across Europe. That is, inside the 55 Lden contour. [Lden stands for noise over day, evening and night, with different weighting to noise at night. It is the measure most used in Europe, rather than just the 57 Leq noise contour].

Astonishingly, that is 28% of all people affected by aircraft noise right across Europe.  [ By contrast, the number affected at the 2nd worst airport, in terms of the people overflown, was about 94,000 or 3.7% of the total; and 63,600 or 2.5% at Glasgow. The number at Gatwick was 11,900 or 0.5% – though there is a difference between the way noise is experienced in rural areas with low background noise, compared to in urban areas].

The number to be affected by noise by a Heathrow 3rd runway is not known, and cannot be known, as the flight paths have not been published. Indeed, there needs to be consultation before they could be agreed.

The 55 Lden noise contour is NOT a fool-proof measure of the number affected. Many people outside these contours (conceptual lines on a map- based on averaging noise over time) can be hugely affected by noise. For example, those who are overflown when Heathrow is on easterly operations (about 30% of the time). These areas come out with a low noise average, as for about 70% of the time, they are not overflown. But the impact may be severe for 30% of the time. The government has no satisfactory noise metric, in order to properly measure the areas that are affected by noise, or how badly.

Night flights

Although there is no ban on flights at night, since the 1960s, the Government has been placing restrictions on night flights. There are no scheduled flights between 11pm and 4:30am.

Around 80% of the night flights at Heathrow are between 4.30-6am with on average around 16 (scheduled flights) aircraft arrive each day between these hours.

Heathrow also has a voluntary ban in place that prevents flights scheduled between 4:30am-6am from landing before 4:30am. No departures are scheduled for between 11pm and 6am.  However, there are often departures as late as midnight, if planes are running late.  This is allowed, as part of the 5,800 per year.

Heathrow says:  Planes are classified into seven bands according to the amount of noise they make when taking off and landing – the noisier the plane, the higher the band it is placed in. These bands are called quota counts (QC). Every plane is given a QC number between QC0.5 -QC16

  • Between11pm and 7am, planes in the two highest bands (QC8 and QC16) cannot be scheduled to take off or land.
  • Between11:30pm and 6am, planes in the three highest bands (QC4, QC8 and QC16) cannot be scheduled to take off or land.

A figure for the total amount of noise is calculated by multiplying the number of plane movements in each QC band of noise. This total amount of noise figure is capped by the Government.

The night flight regime (for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted flights) is due for consultation in spring 2017.

Heathrow has been very reluctant to agree to a ban between 11.30pm and 6am, which was the condition imposed by the Airports Commission.

Heathrow has proposal [very careful, rather odd wording]: “The introduction of a legally binding ban on all scheduled night flights for six and a half hours (as recommended by the Airports Commission) from 11 pm to 5:30 am when the third runway opens.” and “We will support the earlier introduction of this extended ban on night flights by Government as soon as the necessary airspace has been modernised after planning consent for the third runway has been secured.”

Heathrow only mentions scheduled flights. Not late ones.  Unless there is a ban on any flight, this theoretical extension of the night quiet period means very little. A plane is just a noisy overhead, whether it is scheduled or not.

While planes may not touch down till 4.30am, they can be arriving over London, and therefore making noise, for at least 15 minutes beforehand.  So that 4.30am does not mean no noise over London, or its surrounding areas.


Heathrow noise offers

Heathrow says it will spend £700 million on insulating homes, schools etc.  Time period?

The scheme would cover homes in the 55 Lden noise contour, (and therefore automatically those in the 57 Leq contour).    Divided by 725,000 or more homes, that is not a lot of money to spend on each.

And it Heathrow is not offering this to other people who are badly affected by noise, but just outside these (entirely theoretical) noise contours.

In Feb 2015 Heathrow said the scheme was being extended to some 160,000 homes – including properties as far away as Windsor and Richmond. It currently pays for soundproofing, including double glazing and loft insulation, at approximately 40,000 homes.   The worst affected might get the full cost paid and others getting up to £3,000 to pay for the work.  This is ONLY if Heathrow is allowed another runway. NOT otherwise.

In April 2015 Heathrow finally finished installing noise insulation at the 42 schools and other community buildings (31 in Hounslow) where it promised in 2005 to carry out the work. It had taken 10 years, and it cost Heathrow £4.8 million.   (Compared with the £700 million offer. People wonder how long that might take?)


Airport carbon emissions

About 9.5 MtCO2 per runway – ie. about 19 MtCO2 per year, from Heathrow’s flights.

Aviation is about 6 – 7% of UK CO2 emissions.

Domestic aviation emissions are included within the UK’s inventory, and in the Climate Change Act 2008. International aviation (and international shipping) is not included, but it is “taken account of”.   International aviation is not in the 4 years Carbon Budgets either.

The DfT estimated that in 2010 Heathrow flights emitted 18.8 MtCO2. That was 56% of the UK aviation total that year of 33.4MtCO2.

DfT “UK aviation forecasts” January 2013. Page 90. Table 6.3

By contrast, 2010 flights from Gatwick (one runway; mainly short haul flights) emitted 3.9 Mt CO2, which was 12% of the UK aviation total. The carbon emissions of all other UK airports made up 32% of the total.

If there was a 2nd Gatwick runway, it is likely that over time its emissions would rise to be the level of Heathrow, as it added more long haul flights (that contribute the most to overall CO2).

Cap on UK aviation carbon emissions – 37.5 MtCO2

The Committee on Climate Change advised the government in 2009 that the UK aviation sector (domestic + international) should not emit more carbon than 37.5MtCO2 by 2050. This was the level in 2005.

The government has not formally accepted this, though they take aviation emissions into account.  International aviation is not formally included in the 2008 Climate Change Act, but its CO2 is “taken into account”.  International aviation is not included in the 4 years carbon budgets.

The Airports Commission was aware that the CO2 emissions from UK aviation would be higher than 37.5MtCO2 well before 2050.  The emissions would rise even higher if a new runway was added. The Commission had no clear ideas how the government could deal with this, other than fanciful and theoretical future pricing of carbon (the aim of which was to increase the price of flying, to cut the demand, that the runway had been built to meet … sensible?)

The CCC has repeatedly asked the government for a clear statement of its policy on aviation carbon emissions, for over a year. There has been no response. There is no policy.

Amount spent by Heathrow on advertising and PR for the runway

The Sunday Times believed that both Heathrow and Gatwick had so far spent at least £30 million each.    16.10.2016

How much corporation tax and dividends do Heathrow pay?

The Sunday Times reported (10.1 2016)  that Heathrow has paid its owners back £2.1 billion in dividends, starting in 2012. But it has only paid a total of £24 million in corporation tax since 2006, with that payment being last year.

Heathrow’s account for the 9 months till 30th September 2016 show £32 million of Corporation Tax paid, and dividends paid of £486 million in the 9 months; dividends paid were £289 million in the same period of 2015; and £380 million in all of £2015.

Gatwick pays no corporation tax.


Airports Commission says runway is for leisure travel, to make people happy

Quietly, in the Airports Commission’s Final Report, released on 1st July 2015, the importance of the business and economic benefits were down-played, and more emphasis was put on the desirability of more – and cheaper – leisure flights, how more holidays improved people’s sense of well-being etc. Page 70 said: “Leisure flights have a high social value. Empirical analysis focused on passengers travelling on holiday or to visit friends and family has shown how the access to leisure travel affects mental health and well-being.”


Further details can be given on many of these issues, and further references, if necessary.

Briefing compiled by Sarah Clayton, AirportWatch co-ordinator


Tel:   07917 726 612

or   01372 722341

or AEF at   0203 192 1509